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Towards a Life Cycle Sustainability Assessment United Nations Environment Programme Making informed choices on products

Copyright UNEP/SETAC Life Cycle Initiative (2011) This publication may be reproduced in whole or in part and in any form for educational or non-profit purposes without special permission from the copyright holder, provided acknowledgement of the source is made. The UNEP/SETAC Life Cycle Initiative would appreciate receiving a copy of any publication that uses this publication as a source. No use of this publication may be made for resale or for any other commercial purpose whatsoever without prior permission in writing from the United Nations Environment Programme. Disclaimer The designations employed and the presentation of the material in this publication does not imply the expression of any opinion whatsoever on the part of the UNEP/ SETAC Life Cycle Initiative concerning the legal status of any country, territory, city or area or of its authorities, or concerning delimitation of its frontiers or boundaries. Moreover, the views expressed do not necessarily represent the decision or the stated policy of the UNEP/SETAC Life Cycle Initiative, nor does citing of trade names or commercial processes constitute endorsement. ISBN: 978-92-807-3175-0 Job Number: DTI/1412/PA UNEP promotes environmentally sound practices globally and in its own activities. This publication is printed on 100% recycled paper, using vegetablebased inks and other eco-friendly practices. Our distribution policy aims to reduce UNEP’s carbon footprint.

Towards a Life Cycle Sustainability Assessment Making informed choices on products

Acknowledgements Producer This document has been produced by the UNEP/SETAC Life Cycle Initiative Supervision and support Sonia Valdivia (UNEP) and Guido Sonnemann (UNEP) Editors Sonia Valdivia (UNEP), Cássia Maria Lie Ugaya (Technological Federal University of Parana and ACV Brasil), Guido Sonnemann (UNEP), Jutta Hildenbrand (Chalmers University) Authors (Alphabetic order) Ciroth, Andreas (GreenDeltaTC) Finkbeiner, Matthias (TU Berlin) Hildenbrand, Jutta (Chalmers University) Klöpffer, Walter (Editor-in-Chief of the International Journal of Life Cycle Assessment) Mazijn, Bernard (Ghent University) Prakash, Siddharth (Öko-Institut) Sonnemann, Guido (UNEP) Traverso, Marzia (TU Berlin) Ugaya, Cássia Maria Lie (Technological Federal University of Parana and ACV Brasil) Valdivia, Sonia (UNEP) Vickery-Niederman, Gina (University of Arkansas) International scientific and professional reviewers and stakeholders consulted Bachmann, Till M. (European Institute for Energy Research, EIFER) Garrigan, Curt (UNEP Sustainable Buildings and Climate Initiative Coordinator) Clark, Garrette (UNEP) Civit, Barbara (University of Mendoza) Duque, Jorge (Escuela Superior Politécnica del Litoral, Guayaquil, Ecuador) Fava, James (Five Winds International) iv Fullana i Palmer, Pere (UNESCO Chair in Life Cycle and Climate Change) Jensen, Allan Astrup (Nordic Institute of Product Sustainability, Environmental Chemistry and Toxicology) Halog, Anthony (University of Maine) Inaba, Atsushi (Kogakuin University, Japan) King, Henry (Unilever) Koniecki, Jakub (European Commission) Mbohwa, Charles (University of Johannesburg) Pierre, Fabienne (UNEP) Swarr, Tom (Five Winds International) Tonda, Elisa (PNUMA) White, Philip (University of Arizona) Vigon, Bruce (SETAC) Von Blottnitz, Harro (University of Cape Town) Zamagni, Alessandra (LCA & Ecodesign Laboratory, ENEA) Editing, proofreading, design and lay-out Winifred Power, Mandy Anton, Sue Dobson Photography Shutterstock images, IStockphoto. Contributions The authors would like to thank everybody who has contributed to the document providing valuable background, ideas, and case studies. In particular, the authors would like to thank Carmen Alvarado (Pré Consultants), Catherine Benoît (New Earth, USA), Pradip Gautam (Environmental Consultant, Nepal), Atsushi Inaba (Kogakuin University, Japan), Bin Lu (Research Center for Eco-Environmental Sciences, Chinese Academy of Sciences), Greg Norris (New Earth), Jean-Pierre Revéret (l’Université du Québec à Montréal), Pablo Cardoso (UNEP consultant), Henry Chávez (UNEP consultant) and the members of the International Life Cycle Board of the the UNEP SETAC Life Cycle Initiative. Towards a Life Cycle Sustainability Assessment: Making informed choices on products

Table of Contents Acknowledgements iv List of Figures vi List of Tables vii Acronyms viii Executive Summary xi Sommaire Exécutif xiii Resumen Ejecutivo xv UNEP Foreword xvii SETAC Foreword xix Note to Readers xx 1 Introduction 1 1.1 Context 1 1.2 What is a life cycle sustainability assessment and why take such an approach? 2 2 Life Cycle Techniques 5 2.1 Life cycle techniques in life cycle sustainability assessment 5 2.2 (Environmental) life cycle assessment 6 2.3 Life cycle costing 14 2.4 Social life cycle assessment 22 3 Life Cycle Sustainability Assessment in Practice 34 3.1 Conducting a step-by-step life cycle sustainability assessment 34 3.2 Additional LCSA issues 41 4 A Way Forward 46 5 Conclusions 48 References 50 Annex A: LCSA and Related Initiatives 56 Annex B: Glossary 58 About the UNEP/SETAC Life Cycle Initiative 61 About SETAC 63 About the UNEP Division of Technology, Industry and Economics 65 Towards a Life Cycle Sustainability Assessment: Making informed choices on products v

List of Figures Geographic distribution of the case studies and connections between unit processes included in one S-LCA study xx Figure 1. Flows of information needed for a life cycle inventory. 7 Figure 2. Overall UNEP/SETAC scheme of the environmental LCIA framework, linking LCI results via the midpoint categories to damage categories. 8 Figure 3. Normalized results per impact category of a school desk made from FSC certified wood. 13 Figure 4. Life cycle inventory (LCI) of 1 kg of gold (99.5%). 15 Figure 5. Scope of application of three flavours of life cycle costing. 15 Figure 6. Cost categories and the share of labour costs in life cycle costing. 17 Figure 7. LCC of standard public transport heavy duty bus (in US ). 19 Figure 8. Full-cost accounting for washing machines before and after dewatering and water recirculation. 21 Figure 9. Examples of a social life cycle inventory (S-LCI) and interrelationships to subcategories and impact categories. 23 Figure 10. Assessment system from categories to unit of measurement. 24 Figure 11. System boundaries of the study of a social life cycle assessment (S-LCA) for cobalt production in Katanga, Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). 25 vi Figure 12. System boundaries considered in the notebook computer study. 28 Figure 13. Results of the social life cycle analysis (S-LCA) for different stakeholders (clockwise): workers, overall, value chain actors, local community. 30 Figure 14. System boundaries of a life cycle sustainability assessment (LCSA). 35 Figure 15. Example of life cycle sustainability assessment (LCSA) inventory data for unit process and organization levels. 37 Figure 16. Examples of midpoint and endpoint categories, subcategories of stakeholders and cost categories when starting a life cycle sustainability assessment (LCSA). 39 Figure 17. Presentation of LCSA results of the marble slabs study. 41 Figure 18. (Environmental) LCA results of WEEE recycling options in China. 43 Figure 19. Presentation of combined LCC and (environmental) LCA results of a WEEE recycling options in China. 44 Towards a Life Cycle Sustainability Assessment: Making informed choices on products

List of Tables Table 1. Input/output table for wooden school desk. 10 Table 2. Potential life cycle impacts table for wooden school desk – wood extraction and board sawing. 12 Table 3. Costs of standard public transport heavy duty bus. 19 Table 4: Full cost accounting for washing machines before and after dewatering and water recirculation. 21 Table 5. Selected examples of social impacts on workers and local communities as a result of artisanal mining of cobalt in Katanga, Democratic Republic Congo. 26 Table 6. Example of life cycle sustainability assessment data for marble slabs case study. 38 Table 7. Example of LCSA impact assessment results for a marble slabs case study. 40 Table 8. Life cycle costing (LCC) results of two WEEE wastes recycling options in China. 43 Table 9. S-LCA results of general WEEE recycling options in the informal sector China. 44 Towards a Life Cycle Sustainability Assessment: Making informed choices on products vii vii

Acronyms CALCAS CALCAS, Coordination Action for innovation in Life Cycle Analysis for Sustainability CBS Cost breakdown structure CR Critical review EC European Commission ELVs End-of-life vehicles EoL End of life EPD Environmental Product Declaration EU European Union FAETP Freshwater aquatic ecotoxicity potential FSC Forest Stewardship Council HTP Human toxicity potential ISO International Organization for Standardization (environmental) LCA Environmental life cycle assessment viii LCA Life cycle assessment LCC Life cycle costing LCI Life cycle inventory analysis LCIA Life cycle impact assessment LCM Life cycle management LCSA Life cycle sustainability assessment LCT Life cycle thinking NGO Non governmental organization R&D Research and development REPA Resource and environmental profile analysis SCP Sustainable consumption and production SETAC Society for Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry Towards a Life Cycle Sustainability Assessment: Making informed choices on products

S-LCA Social life cycle assessment TETP Terrestrial ecotoxicity potential UN United Nations UNCED United Nations Conference on Environment and Development UNEP United Nations Environment Programme UNEP-DTIE United Nations Environment Programme – Division of Technology, Industry and Economics WBCSD World Business Council for Sustainable Development WE LCA Working Environment in Life Cycle Assessment WEEE Waste electrical and electronic equipment Towards a Life Cycle Sustainability Assessment: Making informed choices on products ix

Executive Summary In this introduction to the concept of life cycle sustainability assessment (LCSA), we acknowledge the foundations laid by previous works and initiatives. One such initiative has been the ISO 14040 series (Environmental management – Life cycle assessment – Principles and framework), which in addition to the ISO 26000: Social Responsibility Guidance Standard, and the contribution of a number of international initiatives (Appendix A) have been essential for the development of this publication. The life cycle of a product involves flows of material, energy and money. Nonetheless, the picture is not complete unless we look also at the production and consumption impacts on all actors along the ‘value chain’ – workers, local communities, consumers and society itself. Different life cycle assessment techniques allow individuals and enterprises to assess the impact of their purchasing decisions and production methods along different aspects of this value chain. An (Environmental) life cycle assessment (LCA) looks at potential impacts to the environment as a result of the extraction of resources, transportation, production, use, recycling and discarding of products; life cycle costing (LCC) is used to assess the cost implications of this life cycle; and social life cycle assessment (S-LCA) examines the social consequences. However, in order to get the ‘whole picture’, it is vital to extend current life cycle thinking to encompass all three pillars of sustainability: (i) environmental, (ii) economic and (iii) social. This means carrying out an assessment based on environmental, economic and social issues – by conducting an overarching life cycle sustainability assessment (LCSA). This publication shows how all three techniques – which all share similar methodological frameworks and aims – can be combined to make the move towards an overarching LCSA possible. Because it is holistic, systemic and rigorous, (environmental) LCA is the preferred technique when it comes to compiling and assessing information about potential environmental impacts of a product. It has been standardized in the ISO 14040 and 14044 and is applied by practitioners globally. Life cycle costing as a technique to calculate and manage costs, especially for large investments has been used to support decision-makers in procurement for decades, with a rigorous focus on private costs. Prerequisites for better alignment with (environmental) LCA are currently being researched and will help the further development of the method. As an emerging technique, S-LCA will play a key role in complementing material- and energy-flowrelated information. Since the late 1990s, the Life Cycle Initiative partnership of the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) and the Society for Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry (SETAC) has enhanced the role of life cycle based approaches and thinking in several ways. Two examples are the partnership’s contributions to the Marrakech Process on Sustainable Consumption and Production (SCP) and inputs for the development of a 10-Year Framework of Programmes on SCP (10YFP). xi

This current publication, Towards a Life Cycle Sustainability Assessment, expands this work by bringing the concept of LCSA methods to the fore. In doing so, it will contribute to the sustainable development discussions of the United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development (Summit) in 2012 (‘Rio 20’). The text will also contribute to the UNEP Green Economy Initiative – which strives to build economies that bring improved human well-being, reduce inequalities over the long term and which keep future generations safe from environmental risk and ecological scarcity. Specifically, Towards a Life Cycle Sustainability Assessment hopes to increase decision-makers’ awareness of more sustainable life cycle stages. It will also support stakeholders looking for approaches that will provide holistic assessments of the implications of a product’s life cycle for the environment and the society. Finally, it will offer guidance to enterprises and people who are trying to reduce environmental degradation and the use of natural resources xii in their production practices and increase the environmental, economic and social benefits for society and local communities. This publication can be used as a springboard for stakeholders to engage in a holistic and balanced assessment of product life cycles and to consider the three pillars of sustainability in a unique and instructive approach. In this way, this publication will provide further guidance on the road towards the consolidation of LCSAs. LCSA has the potential to be used by decision-makers in governments, agencies for international cooperation, business and consumers’ associations. While more research and applications are needed, its application is already feasible and encouraged to speed the learning curve of society. The publication includes eight case studies to illustrate how current and emerging life cycle assessment techniques are being implemented worldwide from Asia through Europe and Latin America. Towards a Life Cycle Sustainability Assessment: Making informed choices on products

Sommaire Exécutif Dans cette introduction au concept d’Analyse de la Durabilité dans le Cycle de Vie (ADCV), nous reconnaissons les fondations posées par les travaux et initiatives antérieurs. Les initiatives suivantes, ISO 14040 (Management environnemental – Analyse du cycle de vie – Principes et cadre) ajoutées aux séries ISO 26000 (Lignes directrices relatives à la responsabilité sociétale) et un important nombre de projets internationaux ont été essentiels dans le développement de cette publication. Le cycle de vie d’un produit engage différents flux d’énergie, de matériaux, et d’argent. Néanmoins, le tableau serait incomplet si l’on omettait de prendre en compte les impacts de la production et de la consommation sur tous les acteurs de la chaine de valeur: les ouvriers, les communautés locales, les consommateurs et la société. Les différentes techniques d’évaluation du cycle de la vie permettent aux individus et aux entreprises d’évaluer les impacts de leurs décisions d’achat ainsi que de leurs méthodes de production tout au long des différents aspects de cette chaine de valeur. L’analyse (environnementale) du cycle de vie (ACV) considère les impacts comme conséquences de l’extraction de ressources, du transport, de la production, du recyclage, de l’usage et de l’élimination des déchets; l’analyse des coûts du cycle de vie (ACCV) est utilisée pour évaluer les implications des coûts au long de ce cycle de vie; et l’analyse sociale du cycle de vie (ASCV) étudie les conséquences sociales. Cependant, dans le but d’obtenir un tableau plus complet, il est important d’étendre la pensée de ‘cycle de vie’ afin qu’elle englobe les trois piliers de la durabilité: (i) environnement, (ii) économie, et (iii) social. Ce qui revient à établir un bilan fondé sur les facteurs économiques et sociaux ainsi qu’environnementaux, en mettant sur pied l’ADCV. Cette publication vise à expliquer comment y parvenir et démontrera comment ces trois techniques – avec les mêmes buts et trames méthodologiques – peuvent être combinées pour rendre possible l’ADCV. Parce qu’elle est holistique, systémique et rigoureuse l’ACV (environnementale) est la technique privilégiée lorsqu’il s’agit de compiler et d’évaluer des informations sur les impacts environnementaux potentiels d’un produit. Elle fut standardisée au travers des normes ISO 14040 et 14044 et est appliquée par des acteurs dans le monde entier. L’ACCV est une technique qui calcule et gère les coûts, principalement dans le cas des larges investissements. A travers une approche rigoureuse de coûts réels, cette technique a été utilisée pendant des décennies afin d’aider les responsables des services d’achats. Afin de permettre un meilleur alignement avec l’ACV (environnementale), un futur développement de l’ACCV est nécessaire. L’utilisation de la technique émergente de l’ASCV jouerait un rôle clé car elle complémenterait les informations reliées aux flux des matériaux et de l’énergie. Depuis la fin des années 1990, le partenariat du cycle de vie du Programme des Nations Unies pour l’environnement et de La Société de Toxicologie et Chimie de l’Environnement ont amélioré le rôle des approches de cycle de vie de différentes manières: pour exemple, grâce à la contribution du partenariat au Processus de Marrakech des Nations Unies sur la Consommation et Production Durable xiii xiii

(CPD) ou le développement d’un cadre décennal de programmes de CPD (10-YFP). La publication, Vers une analyse de la durabilité dans le cycle de vie du produit, développe ce travail en mettant le concept d’ADCV au premier plan. Dans cette optique, elle contribuera également aux discussions sur le développement durable qui auront lieu en 2012 (Rio 20) lors du sommet des Nations Unies sur le développement durable. Ce texte contribuera aussi à l’initiative sur l’économie verte du PNUE, qui vise à construire des modèles économiques qui améliorent la condition humaine, tout en réduisant les inégalités sur le long terme et en protègant les futures générations par la prévention des risques environnementaux et les pénuries écologiques. Plus spécifiquement, la publication Vers une analyse de la durabilité dans le cycle de vie du produit espère pouvoir sensibiliser les ‘preneurs de décisions’ sur des méthodes de production durable. Il aidera aussi les parties prenantes intéressées en cherchant des approches qui permettent des évaluations holistiques sur les conséquences environnementales et sociales du cycle de vie d’un produit. Enfin, il offrira une orientation en conseillant les personnes et les entreprises qui xiv essaient de diminuer la dégradation de l’environnement et l’utilisation des ressources naturelles dans leurs méthodes de production, l’augmentation des bénéfices environnementaux et socio-économiques pour la société et les communautés locales. Cette publication peut être utilisée comme un appui pour les parties prenantes pour se lancer dans une évaluation holistique et équilibrée du cycle de vie d’un produit en considérant les trois piliers de la durabilité dans une approche unique et éducative. De cette manière, cette publication préparerait les lignes directrices des stratégies dirigées vers la consolidation de l’ADCV. L’ADCV pourrait être utilisée au sein des gouvernements, dans les agences internationales de coopération, ainsi que dans les associations industrielles et de consommateurs. Si nous reconnaissons que la méthode nécessite plus de recherches et d’applications, nous confirmons cependant que l’ADCV est déjà réalisable et encourageons son application, afin d’accélérer la courbe d’apprentissage de la société.Cette publication contient des études de cas qui illustrent comment les pratiques actuelles et émergentes sont utilisées dans le monde entier, de l’Asie en passant par l’Europe, jusqu’en Amérique latine. Towards a Life Cycle Sustainability Assessment: Making informed choices on products

Resumen Ejecutivo En esta introducción al concepto de análisis de la sostenibilidad en el ciclo de vida (ASCV), se reconocen los fundamentos aportados por previos trabajos e iniciativas. Una de ellas es la serie ISO 14040 (Gestión ambiental – Evaluación del Ciclo de Vida – Principios y Marco) que junto a la ISO 26000 (Responsabilidad Social) y la contribución de varias iniciativas internacionales (Apéndice A), han sido esenciales para el desarrollo de esta publicación. El ciclo de vida de los productos implica flujos materiales, energéticos y monetarios. Sin embargo, el cuadro queda incompleto si no se toman en cuenta los impactos de la producción y el consumo en todos los actores a lo largo de la cadena de valor – trabajadores, comunidades locales, consumidores y la sociedad misma. Las diferentes técnicas de evaluación permiten a los individuos y a las empresas medir los impactos de sus decisiones de consumo y de sus métodos de producción en las diferentes etapas de la cadena de valor. Así, el análisis de ciclo de vida ambiental (ACV ambiental) observa los impactos potenciales de la extracción de recursos, transporte, producción, reciclaje, uso y desecho de productos, en el ambiente; el costeo de ciclo de vida (CCV) es utilizado para evaluar los costos de dicho ciclo; y el análisis social de ciclo de vida (ACV social) examina las consecuencias sociales de todo este proceso. Sin embargo, para tener una visión completa es vital expandir el enfoque actual de ciclo de vida para que integre los tres pilares de la sostenibilidad: (i) ambiental, (ii) económico y (iii) social. Esto implica que las evaluaciones basadas en criterios ambientales, económicos y sociales deben realizarse desde una perspectiva global de análisis de la sostenibilidad en el ciclo de vida (ASCV). Esta publicación muestra cómo estas tres técnicas, que comparten objetivos y marcos metodológicos similares, pueden combinarse para avanzar hacia la construcción de un ASCV integral. Dado su carácter holístico, sistémico y riguroso, el análisis de ciclo de vida (ambiental) es la técnica preferida para compilar y evaluar información relacionada con los potenciales impactos ambientales de un producto. Esta técnica de análisis ha sido estandarizada en ISO 14040 y 14044, y es aplicada por expertos en todo el mundo. El costeo de ciclo de vida es una técnica para calcular y administrar costos, especialmente en caso de inversiones importantes, y ha sido utilizado por décadas para apoyar a los tomadores de decisiones, a través de un riguroso enfoque de costos privados. Actualmente, diversas investigaciones tratan de definir las condiciones para una mejor alineación del CCV con el ACV (ambiental). Esto ayudará al desarrollo futuro de la técnica de CCV. Debido a su condición de técnica emergente, el ACV social juega un importante rol en la complementación de la información sobre los flujos materiales y energéticos. Desde fines de la década de 1990, a través de la Iniciativa de Ciclo de Vida, el Programa de las Naciones Unidas para el Medio Ambiente (PNUMA), en asociación con la Sociedad de Toxicología y Química Ambiental (SETAC), ha fortalecido de varias maneras el rol de los enfoques basados en el ciclo de vida. Dos ejemplos son las contribuciones de esta alianza al Proceso de Marrakech sobre Consumo y Producción Sostenible (CPS), y el xv xv

aporte de varios elementos para el desarrollo del Marco de Programas de 10 años para el CPS (denominado 10YFP, por sus siglas en inglés). La presente publicación Hacia el análisis de la sostenibilidad en el ciclo de vida intenta continuar con dicho trabajo, introduciendo el concepto de análisis de la sostenibilidad en el ciclo de vida (ASCV), para su discusión y debate. De esta manera, se quiere contribuir a las discusiones de la Conferencia de Naciones Unidas sobre el Desarrollo Sostenible en 2012 (‘Rio 20’). Igualmente, esta publicación es una contribución a la Iniciativa de Economía Verde del mismo PNUMA, que boga por una economía que mejore el bienestar humano, reduzca desigualdades en el largo plazo, y que no exponga a las generaciones futuras a riesgos ambientales significativos, ni a escaseces de recursos. Específicamente, Hacia el análisis de la sostenibilidad en el ciclo de vida desea concientizar a los tomadores de decisiones sobre la importancia de desarrollar ciclos de vida más sostenibles. Así mismo, intenta apoyar a quienes estén interesados en realizar evaluaciones holísticas de los impactos ambientales y sociales de un producto a lo largo de su ciclo de vida. Finalmente, esta xvi publicación aspira a ofrecer una guía a las empresas y personas que intentan reducir la degradación ambiental y el uso de recursos naturales en sus prácticas de producción, a la vez que aumentar los beneficios ambientales, económicos y sociales para la sociedad y las comunidades locales. Esta publicación puede ser utilizada como un catalizador para involucrar a las partes interesadas en evaluaciones holísticas y equilibradas de los productos a lo largo de su ciclo de vida, que tengan en cuenta los tres pilares de la sostenibilidad bajo un enfoque único e instructivo. De esta manera, esta publicación proveerá una guía adicional para la consolidación de los ASCV. El AVSC tiene el potencial para ser usado por los tomadores de decisiones a nivel gubernamental, en agencias de cooperación internacional, en empresas y asociaciones de consumidores. A pesar de que es necesaria mayor investigación, su aplicación no sólo es posible sino también necesaria para incrementar la velocidad de aprendizaje de la sociedad. Esta publicación contiene ocho estudios de caso que ilustran como las técnicas de ciclo de vida actuales y las emergentes están siendo implementadas alrededor del mundo pasando por Asia, Europa y América Latina. Towards a Life Cycle Sustainability Assessment: Making informed choices on products

UNEP Foreword Nearly 20 years after the Earth Summit, nations are again on the road to Rio, but in a world vastly changed from that of 1992. Then we were just glimpsing some of the challenges emerging across the planet, from climate change and the loss of species to desertification and land degradation. Today, many of those seemingly far-off concerns are becoming a sobering reality, challenging not only our ability to reach the United Nation’s Millennium Development Goals but also the very opportunity for close to seven billion people to be able to thrive, let alone survive, in an increasingly crowded world. Rio 1992 did not fail — far from it. It provided the vision and set in place important pieces of the multilateral machinery to achieve a sustainable future. A transition to a Green Economy is already under way, a point underscored in UNEP’s Green Economy Report and a growing wealth of companion studies by international organizations, countries, corporations and civil society. But the challenge is clearly to build on this momentum. A Green Economy does not favor one political perspective over another; it is relevant to all economies, be they state or more market-led. Rio 20 offers a real opportunity to scale-up and embed these ‘green shoots’. Along with the debate about corporate responsibility over the past two decades, which led to the ISO 26000 standard on social responsibility and to which UNEP contributed actively, there has been growing demand for direction and guidance on environmental challenges and how to incorporate social and economic issues into sustainability strategies and impact assessments, both in the public and the private sector. Life cycle assessment, or LCA, is a crucial tool standardized in the ISO 14040 series for changing unsustainable consumption and production patterns. More and more institutional and individual consumers want to understand the world behind the products they buy. They want answers to their questions about products, covering the triple bottom line of sustainability: people, planet, profit. This type of product sustainability information is revealed through life cycle sustainability assessments. Understanding, quantifying and communicating the sustainability of products is part of the solution to continuously reducing their impacts and increasing their benefits to society. UNEP’s Life Cycle Initiative, a collaboration with the Society for Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry (SETAC), has been promoting life cycle management as a key part of the response to the sustainability challenge since 2002. The Life Cycle Initiative has published a number of reference documents since then, such as the Life Cycle Management Business Guide to Sustainability and the Guidelines on Social LCA. Promoting the complicated tool of Life Cycle Assessment and the holistic concept of Life Cycle

2.1 Life cycle techniques in life cycle sustainability assessment 5 2.2 (Environmental) life cycle assessment 6 2.3 Life cycle costing 14 2.4 Social life cycle assessment 22 3 Life Cycle Sustainability Assessment in Practice 34 3.1 Conducting a step-by-step life cycle sustainability assessment 34 3.2 Additional LCSA issues 41 4 A Way Forward 46

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